Erika Yamashiro is a great Japanese artist. She has an upcoming show in L.A. and thought it would be a great opportunity to sit down and pick her brain. Read below for the full Q&A…
You predominantly work with oils. What are the pros and cons with working with this medium?
Erika: I like oil paintings because I can express color and texture as I want. When I am requested, I paint on acrylic.
Working with pencils, does this give you an advantage with bringing out smaller features? What other kind of benefits do you get with pencils?
Erika: Of course, I can draw smaller features easier but it is not important. The important is to know that people have more freedom to imagine from drawing than painting. My goal is to grow something that lets 10 people imagine 10 different colors when they see my drawings. Of course, [the benefit] is I can finish drawings faster than paintings.
Tell us a bit about your art book. What can we expect to see from it and how hard was it selecting which of your pieces would be included.
Erika: It was not hard. You can see elegant and decorative art works of mine after 2006 in this art book.
How much pressure do you feel being spotlighted in solo exhibits? Is it generally a positive experience?
Erika: It is always big pressure. I always see nightmares that some body is chasing me and I am running away on roofs. Solo shows are good for me because I have to think and make every thing; I can grow up by this experience.
You made your U.S.debut back in 2008. Since then have you adapted to the western audience and feel more comfortable showing your artwork? Or is it very similar to showing your work in your homeland?
Erika: Actually, my U.S. debut was Miami Art Fair in 2006. I did group show in L.A in 2007 and 2008. It is very similar to showing my work in my homeland. The place doesn’t matter.
Now that you have entered your 30’s, has your work matured or evolved in any way? Have you gained a new perspective in how you view the world and your art?
Erika: I think I have gained a new perspective as I got older. For example, I started drawing with pencil in 2009 and I started lithography in 2011. I always want to try new styles because I know that makes me grow up.
Could you explain how formal education is in Tokyo? Did college expand your skills as an artist or do you feel education in Japan could be improved?
Erika: I graduated from art college in Tokyo but I don’t think what I studied there was useful. What’s useful was experience which I had gained, joining the art event “GEISAI” hosted by Takashi Murakami for eight years.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime? Have any films inspired any of your pieces?
Erika: Recently my favorite movie is “靴に恋する人魚” http://www.focusfilms.cc/film/theshoefairy.htm
[Other] favorite movie are “Kamikaze Girls”, “Memories of Matsuko”, and I like “Lost in Translation”. It is not a Japanese movie but location is Tokyo. My favorite Japanese Anime are “My Neighbor Totoro”, “The Secret World of Arrietty” and “Castle in the Sky”.
When I look at your paintings, I see the subjects as bold, sure of herself, unafraid of crossing over, away from all man-made things. How important does nature play a part in your creative process?
Erika: My main subject is always female. Even nature and animals are parts of decorations for her. My importance is “feminine”. I don’t paint man-made things because I feel they are not feminine. If I feel feminine in man-made things I might paint them in my artwork.
Lastly, any advice you could give to any creative out there?
Erika: I decided I’d never give up expressing by art.
Want to keep tabs on Erika’s art? Follow her cookie crumb trail below:
Exhibit Show Info:
February 18th – March 7th, 2012
2062 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025